Power Consumption and Noise
We carried out our power consumption measurements using special equipment. To create maximum load we launched FurMark 1.7.0 in stability check mode at 1920x1200 and Linpack x64 (LinX 0.6.3, 3500MB, 7 threads). These two programs load heavily the graphics card and CPU, respectively, so we can determine the peak power draw of the whole system. We also found out the most resource-consuming game – Lost Planet: Colonies – and measured the power consumption of the systems while running it, too.
You can see the results in the diagram:
Thus, the systems with new Radeon HD 58xx cards are among the most economical in this test. The Radeon HD 5850 is the best in this respect while the power draw of the senior Radeon HD 5870 is comparable to that of the Radeon HD 4890 and much lower than that of the dual-processor Radeon HD 4870 X2 which it often challenges in terms of performance. Note also the extremely low power draw of the Radeon HD 58xx systems in 2D mode.
The systems with dual-processor Radeon HD 4870 X2 and GeForce GTX 295 cards require the most power.
We also measured the level of noise using an electronic noise-level meter CENTER-321 in a closed room about 20 sq. meters large. The noise-level meter was set on a tripod at a distance of 20 centimeters from the graphics card which was installed in a system case with an open side panel.
The five 120mm system fans was set at 520rpm during this test and the background noise of the system case, if measured from a distance of 1 meter, was 32.9dBA. When the computer was shut down, the noise-level meter reported 29.9dBA. Subjectively, the comfortable level of noise is about 41dBA, which is marked with a red line in the diagram.
The measurement method is simple: the speed of the graphics card’s cooler was changing with RivaTuner or MSI Afterburner from 100 to 20% (25%) stepping 5%. At each speed the level of noise was measured and the results are used to build the diagram. The Radeon HD 5850 was as loud as the HD 5870 and the GeForce GTX 275, as GTX 285. Therefore, there are only four graphics cards in the diagram.
Although the Radeon HD 5870 has the highest level of noise among the four graphics cards, it is the quietest of all. This is no paradox. The cooling system of Radeon HD 58xx series cards does not speed up more than 31% or 2100rpm even under maximum load whereas the coolers of the other cards accelerate to 40% and higher and get louder as the consequence (this is especially true for the Radeon HD 4870 X2). Besides, the cooling system of the Radeon HD 58xx series is the quietest among the tested cards at a fan speed of 2000-2100rpm.